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CG Recommends
The Other Tremblant

Long and widely proclaimed as Eastern Canada's skiing mecca, Mont-Tremblant, Que., is one of the highest peaks in the Laurentians. It is host to international ski races, caterer to year-round, high-end tourism, site of a formerly glorious Grand Prix racecourse -- and location of the village and lakeside cottage my parents drove me and my sister to every weekend when I was young.


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It is now possible to buy a million-dollar condo in the shiny new resort at the base of the once-trembling, now-dormant peak. But back in 1964, for the price of a cheap used car today, you could get the 1918-vintage clapboard cabin with no water, power or basement, but with a half-acre of shoreline property that became my summer playground.

At first, it was frightful. Spiders, snakes, squirrels taunted and haunted me, a naïve city boy. I couldn't swim. The neighbour's dogs terrorized me. Deer and bears were out there. It was a wild world.

Friendship changed everything. Neighbouring kids became family and the fun began. I learned to swim, row, paddle, float a raft, even waterski. I grew up there, all summer and every weekend, every year until snowfall.

Mont-Tremblant was a typical Québécois village — like most before and after the Quiet Revolution — where the Catholic church, the Letendre brothers' general store, Matt's Texaco and the post office were the cultural contact points. But the attraction of a 968-metre high mountain — with ski trails named Nansen, Sissy Schuss and the Flying Mile — proved irresistible to well-enough-off Montréalers. They, and we, joined the two-hour speedburn up the Decarie Expressway, along the Metropolitan, and up the Laurentian Autoroute.

Laval, St-Jérôme, St-Sauveur-des-Monts, Ste-Adèle, Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, St-Faustin, St-Jovite — these signs flashed past my backseat window en route to Mont-Tremblant. We called it "Up North," even though it was due northwest.

Recession, government takeover and investment by deep-pocketed commercial developers brought bankruptcy, embarrassment and environmental controversy to "the Hill." But today, it booms. It is Aspen, Saint Moritz and Whistler duplicated. Pedalboats, powerboats and sailboats; slalom skiers, racecar drivers and mountain bikers; blues fests, art exhibits and gardening contests — the place has become a gigantic year-round playground.

My visits now are all too short. But I do dream of a week or two spent lakeside with my family, a good book and a swimsuit. That is the Tremblant I know and recommend.

Eric Harris, Managing Editor
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